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MODERN HISTORY SOURCEBOOK

Reading Guide

Voltaire: On Descartes and Newton

[Note: Reading Guides are meant as review aids for a particular text. They do indicate some of the questions a text raises.]

Answer the questions below.

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Voltaire: On Descartes and Sir Isaac Newton

These are some questions to guide your reading. It might help if you note down possible answers in the spaces between the questions. Come to class prepared to comment.

  1. How does Voltaire distinguish between the thought of Descartes and Newton?
  2. What is the difference between a plenum and a vacum.
  3. Which thinker, Descartes or Newton, most impresses Voltaire? Why?
  4. How would you characterize Voltaire's style as a writer? Is he enjoyable to read?
  5. What other comments do you have about this reading. Be prepared to discuss them in class.